# 81 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 15 Blessed are all who…walk in His ways

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As I again read the answers given in Psalm 15 and Isaiah 33, I noted a common word which occurs not only here but in many other places in both the OT and the NT. That word is walk.

 

Generally speaking, once we as humans have learnt the art of walking at about 12-18 months old, we rarely think about it until something happens to prevent us from walking. Something temporary like a broken leg or a twisted ankle or even something very final like an accident causing paraplegia.

 

But it is also interesting, that when nothing hinders us, there are many ways to walk. Here are some synonyms for the word walk:

stroll, saunter, amble, trudge, plod, hike, tramp, trek, march  stride, wander, ramble, tread, prowl, promenade, roam, traipse and mosey along.

The way we walk often reveals what is going on in our lives. For example, If we are busy with a lot on our plate, then we will often walk briskly with purpose, taking little time to “smell the roses” as we go. On the other hand, if we are ill or depressed, then our walk will often be slow with our body language revealing obvious signs of the sickness or sadness or confusion within.

 

No wonder walk is such a common and important word in the Bible. It is a very intentional word and it reveals so much about our condition – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

 

Let me quote some important verses in the OT with the word walk in them:

 

Firstly, Deuteronomy 10:12-13

 

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

 

Secondly, Micah 6:6-8

 

With what shall I come before the Lord     and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,     with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,     with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,     the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.     And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy     and to walk humbly with your God.  

 

And then in the NT:

 

John 8:12

 

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

And 1 John 1:5-7

 

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

 

And so, to the answer to the question “who can come into the presence of God?” Psalm 15: 2 says:

 

The one whose walk is blameless,     who does what is righteous,     who speaks the truth from their heart;

whose tongue utters no slander,     who does no wrong to a neighbour,     and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person     but honours those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts,     and does not change their mind; who lends money to the poor without interest;     who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

 

Psalm 24:4 says:
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,     who does not trust in an idol     or swear by a false god.

 

And Isaiah 33 says:

 

15 Those who walk righteously     and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion     and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder     and shut their eyes against contemplating evil—
So, how are we walking today? To use the language of the Bible:

Are we walking in ‘obedience to Him’? Are we walking ‘humbly before our God’? Are we walking in the ‘light’ or in ‘darkness’? Is our walk ‘blameless’? Is our walk ‘righteous’? And the verses above describe what all this looks like.

 

Of course, none of us will always walk as we should, we will often fail, but, it seems that here, in the simple word, walk, we have the answer to the Psalmist’s question. As we walk in the ways of God we can be confident to ‘come before the Lord’ and be able to have ‘fellowship with one another’ knowing that ‘the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.’

 

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways.” (Psalm 128:1)

 

Father, just as we appreciate what a privilege it is to be able to walk well physically, then help us to walk spiritually in a way that reveals our heart for you and the people around us. Amen.

 

 

# 80 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 15 A question worth considering.

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Have you ever heard someone say, maybe to a wayward son or daughter, “If you are going to live in this house then this is what is required of you.”? Usually what follows is a list of activities and habits of behaviour expected of them in order for the family to be able to live together in some sort of peace and harmony. Often questions of attitude and concern for others may also be mentioned.

The key thing in all this is that the “wayward son or daughter” is family. They are not strangers to the household, but members. Considering this we can now look at this psalm, its question and the answer, spoken by and to people of faith in the God of Israel. People like you and me.

Here in Psalm 15, as mentioned in my last post in a quote from Kidner, there is a “pattern of question and answer here [which] may possibly be modelled on what took place at certain sanctuaries in the ancient world, with the worshiper asking the conditions of admittance, and the priest making his reply. But while the expected answer might have been a list of ritual requirements, here, strikingly, the Lord’s reply searches the conscience.”  Kidner then refers to some other passages of scripture where he says, “It happens again in Psalm 24:3-6 and in Isaiah 33:14-17, whose final climax anticipates closely, as this psalm does in general, the beatitude on the pure in heart.” (see references # 29)

So, let’s look at these passages (from the NIV) and see if they shed further light on, firstly, the question in our psalm.

So Psalm 15 asks:

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?

And Psalm 24:3 asks:

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?

And Isaiah 33:14-17, a little more dramatically, states:

The sinners in Zion are terrified;
trembling grips the godless:
“Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?”

Obviously referring to what Isaiah perceives as what it would be like, as a “sinner in Zion”, to be in the presence of the God of judgement.

So, the same question in different words. An extremely important question for all of us, especially if, as the psalmist in Psalm 24:1 says,

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;

And in verse 8 that he is the:

…King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.

This being true, it is therefore vital that we, who live on this earth created by God, understand how we should live in his presence.

Basically, the question could possibly be summarized as, “if God is who he says he is and is what the Bible describes him to be, then is it possible to somehow come into his presence and still live?” And of course, from the biblical perspective, it is. That’s why in all 3 passages mentioned above, the question is followed by an answer in the affirmative. And not only is it possible, but it is to be greatly desired both by God and us. And so the psalmists and Isaiah reassure us that it is possible.

The next question then is, “are we willing?” Is it the desire of our hearts to come before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Do we “hunger and thirst” for the Living God? Or are we seeking to avoid him at all costs? Maybe due to our unbelief or maybe due to our wilful disobedience to all that we know is right?

The wonderful truth is that God, our Father desires us to be with him, to enjoy Him forever.

May we, like Isaiah, be able to say, “O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in times of distress.” (Isa. 33:2)

 

Thank you Father that you are “ able to keep [us] from stumbling and to present [us] before [your] glorious presence without fault and with great joy25 to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”    (Jude 24-25)

 

 

 

 

# 79 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 15 “The person after God’s Heart.”

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After the heaviness of Psalm 14 it is a real delight to move to Psalm 15. How refreshing to move from hearing about those whom God refers to as “fools” to those to whom he refers to as “wise”. Those people who long to live well in His presence and enjoy the wonders of His love, living not only in a right relationship with him, but with all other humans around them. How the world desperately needs more “wise” people!

 

Wilcock comments, “In Bible terms…the ‘foolish’ are not necessarily stupid, rather, they are those who care nothing for God. Similarly, the ‘wise’ are not necessarily brainy; rather, they are those who care a lot about God. In this sense Psalm 15 is about wisdom, and is well placed…alongside its predecessor [Psalm 14], which has so much to say about folly.” (see references # 5)

 

David’s Psalm 15 could possibly be titled, “The Person After God’s Heart.”

 

Here is the Passion Translation:

 

[1. the question]

 

“Lord, who dares to dwell with you?                                                                                                        Who presumes the privilege                                                                                                                         Of being close to you;                                                                                                                                       Living next to you in your shining place of glory?                                                                          Who are those who daily dwell                                                                                                                  In the life of the Holy Spirit?

 

[2. the answer]

 

“They are passionate and wholehearted,                                                                                     Always sincere and always speaking the truth –                                                                               For their hearts are trustworthy.                                                                                                         They refuse to slander or insult others,                                                                                         They’ll never listen to gossip or rumours,                                                                                           Nor would they ever harm another with their words.                                                                   They will speak out passionately against evil, and evil workers;                                                      While commending the faithful ones                                                                                                   Who follow after truth.                                                                                                                           They make firm commitments and follow through, even at great cost.                                                                                                                                                                  They never crush others with exploitation or abuse                                                                               And they would never be bought with a bribe against the innocent.

 

[3. the promise]

 

They will never be shaken, they will stand forever.”

 

When we read this psalm, it brings to mind a number of other Bible passages. For example, the “10 Words (or Commandments)” of Exodus 20; also Psalm 24:3-6 and  Isaiah 33:14-17; then the words of Jesus on the “Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 as well as the words of Paul on “love” in 1 Corinthians 13.

 

This psalm is a so rich, I think to do it justice, we will need to spend some time meditating on what it is saying to us who live in the 21st Century who desire not to live as “fools” but to live as those who are “wise”.

 

So, to begin, some introductory comments:

 

Wilcock speaks of the “worshipers [who have] arrived at the sanctuary, fully aware that this was no place for the casual and the shoddy.” (see references # 5)   i.e. coming into the presence of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!  Something maybe we should think about a bit more before entering into worship with others on a Sunday?

 

Kidner comments, “The pattern of question and answer here may possibly be modelled on what took place at certain sanctuaries in the ancient world, with the worshiper asking the conditions of admittance, and the priest making his reply. But while the expected answer might have been a list of ritual requirements, here, strikingly, the Lord’s reply searches the conscience. It happens again in Psalm 24 :3-6 and in Isaiah 33:14-17, whose final climax anticipates closely, as this psalm does in general, the beatitude on the pure in heart.” (see references # 29) i.e. the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:8 when he said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God”.

 

And let me finish today with an interesting quote from Phil Moore in his book “Straight to the heart of Psalms” as he summarizes what he considers to be the content of this psalm in the context of our lives today. He suggests that:

 

“Psalm 15 is…a description of the kind of church that has…power to change a nation. David tells us that the lifestyle of a worshiper…should be the exact opposite of the lying, self-assertive, grasping culture which is spawned by an atheistic worldview. He tells us not to compartmentalize our Christian lives and to allow God to shape our character in every area. He tells us to resist the march of secularism by speaking up for God at school, at work, in the arts, in the media and in government. He tells us to stand up to militant pluralism by proclaiming that the Lord is the only true Saviour. When we do so, he promises that we will see our nation won to Christ. That’s what happens when people defy their culture because they have become friends with God the Culture –Changer.”  ( see references # 36 )

 

Father, our desire is to be people with hearts like yours. Hearts undivided. Hearts for you and the needy people of the world around us. Hearts to love that which is good and hate that which is evil. Hearts acceptable to you. Empower us by your indwelling Holy Spirit to live like this. To live like Jesus! Amen.